Along with a tour stop for Racing Savannah, I'm also posting our review the book! I loved it, and I hope that you'll love it as much, when it comes out on December 3rd!
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format read: E-ARC via NetGalley
Set against a backdrop where innate talent and class warfare don't often intermix, this is an exciting, romantic story that will have people falling in love with Miranda's world all over again.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.
With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…
So when I was given the opportunity to join the Racing Savannah tour, I leapt at the opportunity. The book sounded like it had everything I could want in a good book - a southern setting, horse racing, comparisons to Downton Abbey, and a fearless heroine who could more than keep up with the boys.
And I was totally right. This is a fantastic piece of contemporary fiction, which is not only a great addition to Miranda's Hundred Oaks series, but to YA contemporary fiction in general.
Things that worked:
It seems like almost every YA book takes place on either coast, so I love the fact that Miranda returns to Tennessee and the world of Hundred Oaks for Racing Savannah.
Miranda really draws on the differences of this particular region in the book - from the descriptions of rich families still having servants and traditions involving class and society, to the descriptions on why things like farming and horse racing are so richly ingrained into every facet of the life here (and why a girl like Savannah would be a novelty in the horse racing world) - is all detailed wonderfully from start to finish.
* The characterizations
As usual, Miranda does a fantastic job of creating both a memorable heroine and a great ensemble.
Savannah is determined, but also frankly pragmatic about the realities of her life. She knows what she's good at and willing to fight for it, but is also stubborn and needs convincing before she's willing to accept help for things she doesn't necessarily understand.
Even though she may not be the most likable character - more on this later - Miranda writes Savannah in a way where you absolutely understand her, and can relate to her.
The secondary characters are awesome, as well. Readers will absolutely LOVE Rory, Vanessa and the people that enter Savannah's life. They're the type of friends you absolutely want to make for life.
* The plotting/world-building
Racing Savannah moves along briskly, and shows a significant amount of obstacles and growth for the course of the book. Miranda does a great job of taking ordinary, every day obstacles (e.g. planning for college), and showing how they can impact the course of a teenager's life.
Also, I love the fact that we see familiar faces, and how they've progressed in life.
* The writing
As always, Miranda's writing is flawless. She digs deep and unleashes her trademark of genuine, honest intensity that shows she not only really understands how teenagers think, but is able to reflect that beautifully in how her characters think, act and interact with one another.
* The romance
Without giving any spoilers away, readers will absolutely appreciate the complexities of the romance that Miranda has created. There's a bit of back-and-forth, but the struggles and that uncertainty are so true to real teenager romances in general.
Things to consider/Things I wanted more of:
I know that Miranda's mentioned before that she's not a big horse person, but I thought that she did an excellent job explaining the world of horse racing for an equally novice reader.
However, I enjoyed her horse-related descriptions/stories so much, I would have loved it if she had expanded on the world more - e.g. shown us the grit and the grime of jockeys like Savannah, rather than focus on the romance.
But this is just a personal preference, and I would love to hear what everyone else thought.
* Savannah's personality/issues with those wealthier than her
I loved Savannah a lot, so I struggled with the fact that she often made assumptions that didn't really come from an informed place, and didn't always pick up on the fact that not everyone seemed to agree with her, or that she was wrong.
I definitely applaud Miranda Kenneally for showing teenaged behavior at its best and at its worst, but I sometimes wanted to facepalm and be like, "Savannah, stop acting like such a teenager!"
Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of Racing Savannah from Sourcebooks via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
The grand prize: all four of the Hundred Oaks books!
Second prize: A copy of Racing Savannah!
Unfortunately, this giveaway is US-only. Apologies to the international folks - I still love you!